We have officially returned from our China trip, and I'm still getting over jet lag! We had such an amazing time! We got to see MANY sites including Lama Temple, Hutong City, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Temple of Heaven, Ming Tombs, and of course THE GREAT WALL! Needless to say, we were able to see many historic sites. We also were able to go to The Tea House the first day we were there after we toured and try many different types of Chinese tea, and some of them were super good! Out of the many sites we saw, The Great Wall was definietely my favorite part! We climbed tons of steps to get to the top but it was well worth it! The view was amazing and even better than pictures on the internet. After we had reached the top and taken our photos, we got to toboggan down. I didn't know what this was until I did it. There was this long slide all the way down and each person sat in a sled type thing and rode all the way down. It was super fun because you were able to control your own speed! Along with touring, we were also able to experience the joys of shopping (and BARGAINING!!). We went to a dirk market, as well as the infamous Pearl Market. There was so much stuff in Pearl Market, it was impossible to look at everything. We were constantly being bombarded by the vendors, but that was the fun of it! Real or fake, we got some really good deals and had alot of fun in the process! Experiencing the food in China was also a big part in the trip. We went to many different traditional Chinese restaurants, where we were able to try new cuisines. Most of it was actually pretty good, although by the end we were ready for some American food! They did, however, have a McDonalds, KFC, Dairy Queen, and Pizza Hut which gave us a little taste of home. By the end of the trip, MOST of us were pros at using chopsticks.
In addition to touring, shopping, and eating we also got a chance to tour two different schools in order to compare our education system with theirs. The first school we toured was fairly new. They had very small classes with up to date technology and were quickly advancing. The second school we toured was the Western Academy of Beijing, which was absolutely AMAZING! It was a one-to-one school, meaning all the students had an iMac. It looked like it was based on more of a college type feel rather than a middle/high school feel. There were cafes and restaurants everywhere you turned. The students could also go and sit in the lounge area during class if they needed to study. Compared to our classes and general school environment, their's was so much different. Their music and theater departments were awesome. They were also training 5th graders all the way up to 12th graders in broadcasting. They had a screen out on the soccer field to record games and it was run strictly by the students. We found this pretty amazing because the students were learning a huge thing at such a young age, and they needed no help to do it. Looking at our school compared to the ones in Beijing, we saw alot of differences. Their schools were alot more advanced in technology as well as the general surrounding atmosphere. Although this school seemed like a utopia for us as students, I am very happy to be a part of Westwood. Even if we don't have the greatest technology there is out there, I feel like we have one of the best educational curriculums around. I am very thankful that I was given this amazing opportunity. Many people think that it was just a vacation for us, but in fact it was an educational experience in which we put alot of effort into. During the conference we brainstormed, created, and pitched in groups of people from different countries. It was well worth all the hard work because we got to form relationships with people from all over the globe. Upon getting to know them, we also learned what it was like where they were from and alot about their culture. Through all of this, we had a very educational experience. I'm looking forward to sharing what I learned with other students as well as the community. Any person, if given the opportunity, should take advantage of travelling to another country and experiencing the culture because it gives you a whole new perspective on the world. Thank you Mrs. Vicki and the Westwood faculty for providing us with this amazing opportunity and making this trip possible!